Google is extending its fiber optic Internet service, Google Fiber, to businesses, offering business customers in select areas of Kansas City, in both Kansas and Missouri, access to superfast Internet connectivity.
Google in April said it had begun asking business owners about their need for fast Internet service. The company's Early Access Program for Google Fiber for Small Business represents the next step in that inquiry.
Similar in terms of speed to the consumer version of Google Fiber, Google Fiber for Small Businesses offers Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps) for $100 per month. It adds dedicated support via phone, email, or chat. It requires no long-term commitment, unlike the two paid tiers of the consumer offering.
Google Fiber for residential customers is priced at $120 per month with 150+ TV channels, $70 per month without TV content, or free for basic 5-Mbps down/1-Mbps up Internet connectivity.
[Is Obama overstepping his bounds? Or protecting the integrity of the Internet? See Net Neutrality: Let There Be Laws.]
Google Fiber for Small Businesses also offers one static IP address for $20 per month, or five for $30. Businesses generally should invest in a static IP address to host servers or run a VPN.
"Whether a business uses their connection to move to the cloud, get closer to customers on Hangouts, or bring more transactions online, we're excited to see what happens when Kansas City businesses say farewell to slow speeds and hello to all the tools and technologies that they need to grow," said Carlos Casas, team manager for Google Fiber in Kansas City, in a blog post.
Kansas City, Kan., was the first city to receive Google Fiber. Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, were added to the list in 2013. Casas acknowledged that there are small businesses in Austin and Provo, but said Google has no specific plan to extend Google Fiber for Small Businesses to other cities at this time.
In February, Google invited 34 cities in nine metropolitan areas -- Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Salt Lake City; San Antonio; and San Jose, Calif. -- to discuss the possibility of access to Google Fiber.
Google is proceeding cautiously because it has been involved in unsuccessful municipal broadband projects before. In 2006, Google and Earthlink won a bid to provide San Francisco with free and paid WiFi service.
But negotiations with the city dragged on, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and Chris Sacca, who headed the project at the time for Google, lamented that the city's demands for fees and equipment threatened to delay the project further and make it unprofitable. By the end of the following year, the project was dead.
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